Jefferson County Commissioners Talk About Distributing Economic Development Efforts to Underserved Areas of the County

Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons 2-19-2019 (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Lashunda Scales used a discussion of a possible development in Warrior to remind her fellow Jefferson County commissioners that there are other underdeveloped areas in the county.

“There are other portions of the county that have been much underserved,” she said during Tuesday’s committee meeting. “If there’s $6.5 million left (in the county’s development fund) … What we don’t want is, before these dollars have been totally spent, that we’re not looking in other areas of Jefferson County.”

Commissioner Steve Ammons, who chairs the commission’s development committee, said there are multiple projects that don’t always require money from economic development.

“I think Warrior and Kimberly in that part of Jefferson County are also underserved as well,” he said. “We have a lot out in McCalla. We don’t have as much opportunity in north Jefferson County. We’re trying to take those opportunities and distribute them.

“This is a great opportunity,” Ammons continued.

Ammons was talking about a plan to build the Hallmark Farm Cooperative District. Warrior put up the initial $25,000 in earnest money to purchase the property. Ammons said the county will provide $75,000 in earnest money for the property purchase.

After a due diligence period, the county would provide an additional $150,000. If the cooperative backs out before the end of the due diligence period, Jefferson County gets all of its money back.

“It’s immediately off I-65 in north Jefferson County, Ammons said. “There is nothing else off this exit. It’s almost a perfect storm in giving an opportunity to north Jefferson County.”

Scales pledged to support the endeavor but not before making her case for continued development in other underserved parts of the county. She cited Fairfield, Brighton, Lipscomb and the corridor along U.S. Highway 79 as having a mass amount of land that can be used for development.

“I’m going to support this with the understanding that we’re going to intentionally look at those areas to be developed and invested,” Scales said.

Ammons said he spoke with Fairfield leaders last week, seeking an inventory of buildings available for development.

“We’re working with them,” Ammons said. “We’re working all over trying to make sure economic development isn’t just north Jefferson or west Jefferson. It’s a Jefferson County thing.”

Also Tuesday

In other matters:

The sheriff’s department acknowledged agreeing to legal services from three firms – Gordon, Dana, Gilmore; Calvin Biggers; and BHM Law Group. Commissioners asked in what area of law each firm was secured; a response is pending.

Commissioners talked briefly about a blanket resolution for their consideration concerning a proposed state gas tax.

“From Jefferson County’s point of view, we definitely need more funding for our roads,” said Cal Markert, a deputy county manager. “Jefferson County is also a donor county, which means we collect more gas tax than we probably get back. At this point, I feel like we’ve got to do something.”

Commissioner Sheila Tyson asked if transit money might be included in the proposed tax. Markert said he did not think money from this tax is going to transit at this time.